Secret Ingredient to Intuitive Eating

Seeing how people were happier and healthier after shifting movement patterns to align with their natural structures, gave him the deepest sense of reward he’s felt professionally. Having built impactful and successful businesses in consumer health as well as clinical laboratory, his passion and mission have led him to founding Way. Check out his work and learn more here.

So, you’ve heard of Intuitive Eating (IE), but maybe it feels scary to just eat whatever your body is telling you to eat.

My name is Ben, and here’s the one truth about IE that I wish more creators focused on.

Explaining the Secret Ingredient to Intuitive Eating. (Credit: Way)

After my own Intuitive Eating journey and my team helping more than 11,000 people on their journey (yes, 11,000), there’s one part of Intuitive Eating that isn’t talked about nearly as much as it needs to be.

First, you may feel scared when starting an Intuitive Eating journey. Because the thought of eating whatever you want, makes you feel like you’ll always eat Ben and Jerry’s or Pizza. Or, whatever you call an indulgence, every night of the week.

And that fear makes sense, if you don’t understand the secret ingredient of Intuitive Eating…

Secret Ingredient: Listening to Your Body, Attuning to Your Body’s Signals

In the Foreward to the 4th Edition of “Intuitive Eating”, co-author Elyse Resch spends a good deal of time explaining how this concept of “eating whatever you want” has been promoted, while the equally important part of “listening to your body” and “attuning to your body’s signals” has been forgotten.

Let’s dive in deeper.

When you listen to your body and honestly ask yourself, after eating a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s every night for a week:

How your body feels…

How your mood is…

What are your energy levels like…

How your mental clarity is…

And what’s your digestion feeling like…

That’s when you start to realize that you really may not want to eat ice cream and pizza as much as you think that you do, because you want to feel good.

So, listening to your body is how you naturally and intuitively can guide what you eat towards your values – what really matters to you in life.

And listening to your body sounds either really easy and simple.

Or it sounds totally confusing.

If you’re confused or simply want to dive deeper, THAT’S OKAY. We’ve all been there.

Keep reading and we’ll explore together.

Lady holding hand to chest, listening to her body

First, A Little History and Context of Intuitive Eating

For around 60 years, the mainstream approach to nutrition has been focused on weight loss and body shape/size at the expense of physical and mental health. These approaches are like a Siren’s call to a rocky shore – 4 out of 5 diets fail. With such a high failure rate, it’s important to remember that it’s NOT you failing, it’s the diet.

Thankfully, there’s a more sustainable approach known as Intuitive Eating. Let’s explore and show how it can help you achieve more well-being and happiness.

Intuitive eating was developed by legendary dietitians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole in 1995. It seeks to repair and restore your relationship with food and help you regain trust in your body cues. This nutritional philosophy focuses on honoring hunger, eating for satisfaction, and respecting your body in a way that it gets all the necessary nutrients without any external diet plan.

With over 150 clinical studies supporting its effectiveness, Intuitive Eating is a proven method that can transform your relationship with food, largely effective by listening to your body. So let’s discover the power of intuitive eating and learn how to nourish ourselves in a way that feels natural and joyful.

It really is a wonderful and effective way to uncover a connection to your original, authentic self while first healing your relationship with food, then by learning how to reincorporate nutritional science.

In this article we’re going to talk about how the core 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating really can be simplified to just 2 Principles – eat whatever you want and then, listening to your body.

Claire Chewning, Registered Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, talks about Intuitive Eating and the Way app. (credit: Way)

Principles of Intuitive Eating – Revealing the Authentic Self

The Intuitive Eating approach is based on 10 basic principles that are amazingly simple and yet profound in helping each of us regain connection and peace over their relationship with food.

When you apply the principles of Intuitive Eating correctly, what I see most commonly is that we all become a bit more calm. We become better able to truly align what we do and eat, how we move and think, to our values – our most authentic self.

By letting go of food rules and diet culture’s host of negative core beliefs – like, you “should” eat this, you “should” weight 100 pounds, etc. – we become more free to uncovering our values.

Values are talked about in so many ways these days. Often, they’re seen as a trite or performative attempt to claim some higher moral ground. Values are commonly espoused and trumpeted, coming from corporations, politicians, or even religious groups seeking to evangelize their beliefs or make a claim of superiority.

Authentic Self – Values Are The Bridge

In their original pureness and essence, values are simply determined by what our authentic self feels is best for us and all the people around us. It comes down to a simple question – what’s most important to you? Is a virtue like kindness something you value? Is spending time with your siblings or friends something you value? Or maybe doing work that is meaningful over work that makes more money?

Any of these questions or answers can help define your values. Often, we can see that “virtues” are equated to values, and for good reason. For example, for thousands of years, love and kindness have been found to create more life-giving moments. More appreciation of the present moment, regardless of where in the world you come from. Similarly, fear and cruelty seem to cause more discomfort, suffering, or even dangerous consequences. Uncertainty can be unstable, yet beautiful in its openness.

Values are these very personal, very core beliefs. And, in some societies, small towns, or digital arenas, values are collective. Regardless of their origin, they are a lens into our character. While we may be conscious or unconscious of their influence, what we value and hold true as part of our authentic selves does contribute to the decisions we make.

Decisions about where we live, who we choose to spend time with, how much education to pursue, where to work, what we do with free time – literally, everything. Values also influence what we eat, whether we know it or not. So, by learning how to listen to our bodies, we’re better able to see whether what we eat supports and truly aligns with our values.

Final Thought(s)

When it comes to our relationships with food, I firmly believe that listening to our bodies is the original way of eating that humans have practiced for all time. Dieting and the weight loss industry have been a 60-year, failed experiment that has left more mental health damage in its wake than any of us can count.

Listening to your body gives you the chance to connect with nature’s most powerful and efficient system. And in listening to the body, we each can individually and collectively understand why we value what we do.

That’s what I found in my own practice of helping clients during my days teaching functional movement. It’s the reason why, when I first heard of Elyse and Evelyn’s 10 principles, goose bumps lit up my skin.

I knew immediately that this was exactly what more people need, in a world plagued by failed diets and charlatans claiming nutritional expertise.

After studying through my own personal journey, amassing a network of 2,800 Dietitians, and working closely with 18 of the best mindful and Intuitive Eating, I would propose that the 10 Principles are just 2 Principles:

First, eat whatever you want – don’t be inhibited by diet culture, family members’ judgmental comments, or social pressure from friend. You do you.

Second, listen to your body. Attune to your body’s signals, honoring and respecting them. If you do, the evidence, data, my personal experience and the experience of millions of people attest that you can live happier and have better mental health, emotional health, physical health, and enjoyment of life.